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Three books we've read recently and what we thought of them

Three books we've read recently and what we thought of them

Butter by Asako Yuzuki 

Lovers of Japanese literature will be pleased that Butter has finally made it to our shores and we were certainly excited to sink our teeth into it. 

An exploration of misogyny and obsession, the novel churns with unsettling remarks and behaviour from a cast of characters that keep you guessing. On one page you violently agree with them as they unpack societal expectations and on the next you cringe as they spiral in unexpected directions. 

It won’t surprise you that butter features heavily in this story, with recipes that will pique your interest and descriptions of dishes that will set your mouth watering. But butter is also the physical manifestation of all the things women – and particularly Japanese women – have never been allowed to indulge in … sex, desire, revenge and more. 

Despite the novel being inspired by the real case of the ‘Konkatsu Killer’, you will need to adjust your expectations if you’re looking for a thriller read – this one is all in the psyche and the disturbing reality of the day-to-day for many women. 

Jaded by Ela Lee

Our protagonist, a young lawyer born to a Korean mother and Turkish father, wakes up the morning after a work gala with no memory of how she got home the previous night and must figure out what, exactly, happened. How much is she willing to put up with to make her way to the top of the corporate ladder?

There’s a strong trigger warning on this one, exploring themes around consent, power, race and identity and the rippling effects of sexual assault in workplaces. 

Jaded gripped us right to the end – a fast-paced and thought-provoking modern tale. 

The Extinction of Irena Rey by Jennifer Croft 

Eight translators gather in a forest to begin work on translating the latest work of their beloved author. But, when their author goes missing, they need to investigate her disappearance, while continuing on the work she’s left behind. 

It’s meta, it’s funny, it’s incredibly atmospheric and an examination of the power of language. In The Extinction of Irena Rey, footnotes and perfectly crafted details abound. Plus, it’s written by Jennifer Croft, a translator herself – she’s translated Olga Tokarczuk’s work previously, as well as many other recognisable names. You can tell she’s just been waiting to have fun with this concept. 

You’ll finish this one wondering whether you’ve completely understood everything within its pages … and the urge to flip back to the start to read it all over again and catch the details you missed will be strong. 

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